The United States Department of Agriculture lowered its 2021/22 forecast for Brazil’s soybean planted area further, to 39.8 million hectares (ha) and soybean production to 134.5 million metric tons (MMT). From the last estimates, weather conditions have continued to worsen in key producing regions. Principally, the drought in the south of the country has dampened prospects for a record crop. Post consequently also lowered the 2021/22 soybean export forecast to 86.8 MMT.
South Africa's agricultural machinery industry has had two consecutive years of robust sales boosted by improved farmers finances on the back of a large harvest in 2019/20 and 2020/21, combined with higher commodity prices, particularly in grains and oilseeds.1 However, 2022 will likely change the trend and show moderate agricultural machinery sales as the new machinery's replacement rate will probably be lower than the previous years. Moreover, the crop harvest, especially grains and oilseeds, which were the primary drivers of sales in the past few years, could show a lower yield this year than the past two seasons because of the excessive rains since the start of the 2021/22 production season. This could reduce the profitability of various farming businesses and, after that, equipment purchases.
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey data for the fourth quarter of 2019 show that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment increased by 4.2% (or 36 000 jobs) from the corresponding period last year to 885 000 (see Exhibit 1). The notable job gains were mainly in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo. This was largely in the horticulture, field crops and livestock subsectors. These activities, however, were not evenly spread across all provinces. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist
The South African agricultural machinery market started the year on a bad footing. Tractor sales were down 14% y/y, with 333 units sold. This is the lowest monthly sales data that has been recorded over the past six years. This sales data is, however, unsurprising as it is a continuation of the 2019 tractor sales trend. -Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist
In times of uncertainty, as we are in during COVID-19 and a 21-days lockdown in South Africa, any unusual rise in prices of goods which society relies on the most can be discomforting. This is particularly the case with South Africa’s staple white maize prices, which on 23 March 2020 reached the highest levels last seen in 2016, which was a drought period, at R3 981 per tonne. The question some might be confronted with is whether such price moves should be a concern to the extent that policymakers might need to intervene in the market by setting a price cap? The short answer is no. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist
The outbreak of Covid-19 will change the way we live our lives, without exception. The virus has raised serious concerns in society, ranging from health safety and economic conditions to essential food supplies. In the UK, US and parts of SA we are starting to see empty shelves as consumers stockpile in fear of disruptions to global food chains. This has given rise to questions whether SA could experience food shortages in the near to medium term. I doubt that this will be the case, at least on a national level for most food products. - Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo
In the second week of July 2020, the Economic Transformation Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) and Business for South Africa (B4SA) , released their respective strategy documents for the post-COVID-19 inclusive economy recovery for South Africa. Both the ANC and B4SA prioritised the agriculture sector, for its transformative potential and aligned their strategies with chapter six of the National Development Plan (NDP) , which reflects the commitment of both the government and private sector to the larger development agenda of South Africa. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is requesting wholesalers/ distributors/ agribusiness outlets to express interest to supply farmers with production inputs. The process is aimed at making supply arrangements with interested wholesalers/ distributers/ agribusiness outlets, for the emergency procurement of specific agricultural production inputs, to enable the smallholder and communal farmers to complete the current production cycle. The department intends to procure by means of issuing purchase vouchers to approved farmers. Farmers will purchase from the wholesaler/ distributor/ agribusiness outlet nearest to the farmer. - Media statement issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on 21 April 2020
Business for SA’s Public Health Workgroup is calling on all companies, especially those in lockdown, to urgently divert their stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in the national healthcare sector. The PPE is critically needed to protect frontline doctors and healthcare workers, and to keep them healthy in their fight against the pandemic. - Media statement from Business for South Africa Public Health Workgroup issued on 30 March 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is fast changing the way we live our lives, without exception. The virus has affected every facet of life – health and safety, travel, school and work, and access to basic provisions, such as food. Many supermarkets are in a frenzy as people scramble to secure basic needs amidst impending uncertainty. In this note, we attempt to understand the impact of the COVID-19 on South Africa’s agricultural sector and also food supplies. We offer perspectives on perceived food shortage, agricultural commodities price dynamics, farmers indebtedness and policies that can be implemented. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist